Building Owners, Engineers

New Mandatory Cooling Tower Inspections

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On August 7th, 2015 the Health Department made mandatory the inspection of all New York City cooling towers within 14 days. The inspection is the result of the recent outbreak of Legionnaires Disease pinpointed to bacteria found in cooling towers. In the last month alone, Legionnaires’ Disease has claimed 10 lives and hospitalized 100, all in the South Bronx.

The order applies to “all persons who own, manage or otherwise control buildings with water-recirculating cooling towers within the city of New York.”

Respondents are required to have an environmental consultant inspect the cooling tower. Inspectors will look for organic material, biofilm, algae and other visible contaminants. Even if no Legionella contaminants are found, the environmental consultant must disinfect the cooling tower to “remove all organic material, biofilm, algae and other contaminants and disinfect in a manner sufficient to control for the presence of Legionella organisms within 14 days of receipt of this letter.”

Respondents must maintain records and have them available up on request of the department.

UPDATE:

On August 18th, 2015, New York City Mayor de Blasio enacted law 2015/077 requiring building owners to register their cooling towers with the Department of Buildings and provide a plan for their maintenance. See the enacted law here.

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